Arroz Caldo for the Soul
Last week Mother Nature gave us a sneak peak into summer, and we had a few days of glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. I even broke out my flip flops. In February! But, it was just a tease, and that’s okay. The chillier temperatures (and…
Last week Mother Nature gave us a sneak peak into summer, and we had a few days of glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. I even broke out my flip flops. In February!
But, it was just a tease, and that’s okay. The chillier temperatures (and who am I kidding, they’re still mild relative to the rest of the country in the depths of winter) made me crave comfort food once again. And what’s more reminiscent of childhood comfort foods than chicken soup?
Most people look to chicken soup when they need that extra bit of TLC, and I think it’s pretty common around the world. The soup that fed my soul growing up is called Arroz Caldo, which literally translates to “Hot Rice.” It’s the Filipino version of chicken soup, and it truly encapsulates the complexity of the Philippine’s history. While the name Arroz (rice) Caldo (hot) reflects its Spanish heritage, the soup itself is more similar to its Chinese influences. It’s not unlike the congee or porridge you can find in many Chinese restaurants. In the Philippines, it is sometimes referred to as “Lugaw.”
I vividly remember eating some of the best Arroz Caldo as a child while on a vacation to the Philippines, from a legendary outdoor food vendor in Laguna, where my maternal grandmother grew up. There were two tall, steamy vats full of the soup (as tall as I was at the time), and you could sprinkle your soup with toppings such as crispy cubes of fried tofu, dressed with soy sauce and vinegar, scallions, and garlic. I loved how the tangy combination of the soy sauce and vinegar would cut into the simple but very satisfying soup.
Arroz Caldo was the soup my mom would make whenever we were sick, and the combination of onions, garlic and ginger at its base would always ease any tummy troubles. When I have a lot of time, I like to let the soup cook for hours, developing its own chicken-y broth. But when I’m in a rush, there are many shortcuts I can take so I can have this ready in under an hour. It tastes just as good, and sometimes, it’s nice to not have to wait.
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pieces of ginger, sliced in thick chunks
2-3 lbs chicken (a combination of boneless, skinless thighs and breast works well), cut into bite size pieces
1-2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce), to taste. If you don't have this handy, just use salt!
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 cups chicken stock, low sodium
1 cup jasmine rice
scallions, finely sliced
In a large stock pot, saute the onion, garlic and ginger over medium heat until onion starts to become transparent. Add chicken, patis and pepper. When the chicken is cooked, add stock and rice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cover and continue to cook until chicken is very tender. Stir frequently and adjust seasoning as necessary. Take out the medallions of ginger (no one really likes biting into chunks of ginger!). Garnish with scallions and freshly ground black pepper before serving.
If you have extra time on your hands, after you saute the onion, garlic and ginger, go ahead and put half a chicken, bone in, into the soup pot, and season accordingly. Add water (or a combination of stock and water), and bring it to a boil. Allow the soup to simmer until the meat is falling off the bones and can be easily shred. Remove any bones. Add the rice and continue cooking until ready. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.
I love Arroz Caldo…….good for the cold winter time. I love to put calamansi or lemon.
The best thing to go with the Arroz caldo is Tokwa’t Baboy (Tofu and Pork belly) SOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOD!!!!
I love arroz caldo, I started making it for my husband who’s Filipino and I love it more than he does. Ginger is my favorite spice and the more I add the better it tastes. I love squeezing the limes and patis in the end, can’t wait for the cold weather to get here so I can make it again.
Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. How wonderful that you have learned how to make arroz caldo for your husband! My husband is not Filipino and he has learned to love arroz caldo as well. It’s such a universally satisfying soup!
It’s all about the fresh ginger…and you can’t get better fish sauce than that! Love the post :)
Hi Liza, so glad you stopped by! YES, it’s all about the ginger and patis! I couldn’t agree more.
Arroz Caldo is also one of my comfort food, it always brings back childhood memories. Now I make it for my kids & they love it, too!
I’m so glad my hubby and kids love it as much as I do, because it’s probably one of the few comfort foods we can all agree on, especially on rainy days!!! Isn’t it nice to pass these comforts on?
Lovely post =) There’s a place in the Philippines called Lucban (Quezon) where they serve arroz caldo with “lechon” (roasted pig) on top.
Thank you! I’ve heard of Lucban! I’ve never had lechon on top but I love, love, love it with tokwa’t baboy.
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Should the rice be cooked or uncooked before you put it in the pot?
Hi, Kristina! The rice should be uncooked :)
Arroz caldo was one of my favorites growing up too!
SOunds like delicious Caldo! I love that word, reminds me of when I used to live in South America. Cheers~
Thanks, everyone! With all the snow on the East coast, and all the rain here on the West, I’ve been making lots of soup lately. This dish is perfect for this wintry weather! The ginger really warms you up :)
This is very much like the congee I grew up eating! Haven’t had it in a long, long time though. Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)
Wow, this recipe sounds scrumptious! I just made chicken soup the other day. It certainly is comfort food–my family loves it! Can’t wait to try your version!
Oh—dreaming of warmer weather! We are still holding on to winter here. This rice dish sounds delicious!
I certainly agree that this is comfort food. It is light, yet very satisfying especially on a cold day.